#BlackLivesMatter: A Guide For Confused White People

#BlackLivesMatter: A Guide For Confused White People

Don't all lives matter? Doesn't pro-black mean anti-white? Why can't I say the N-word?
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Here are seven helpful ways to begin lifting our impenetrable veils of white privilege in response to #BlackLivesMatter. I ask that you please consider these steps before changing your statuses to #BlueLivesMatter, or absentmindedly scrolling past the video of Philando Castile’s spontaneous public execution at the hands of a fatally overzealous police officer.

1. First and foremost, saying that #BlackLivesMatter does not translate to #WhiteLivesDoNot. Our comfy privilege blanket makes us feel like we’re being attacked by anything that doesn’t explicitly include us, but this isn’t the case. No one is suggesting that black lives are more meaningful than those of non-black individuals. If it’s helpful for you, maybe mentally attach the words “too,” “also,” or “as much as mine does,” to the end of the phrase. And in case you’re inclined to snidely retort that all lives matter – of course they do, but America can’t credibly make that case until we stop treating our black citizens as if they’re second-class.

2. Before you use the Dallas police shootings try to write off #BlackLivesMatter as a terrorist organization that spews anti-white or anti-police rhetoric, I want to remind you that we did not blame all white Christians for the actions of the racially-motivated attacks by Dylann Roof in Charleston last summer. The movement is pro-black, undoubtedly, but contrary to what we might be quick to assume, this does not at all mean anti-white. Instead, being pro-black is to ask white people to do the untidy, uncomfortable job of assessing how our whiteness positively impacts our lives at the expense of fewer opportunities for black Americans.

3. It’s time to acknowledge our white privilege and all of the things it does for us and absolutely nobody else. If you’re confused by what it means, check out Peggy McIntosh’s quintessential 1988 essay on it. If you’re from Chicago and you demand proof, you can see how whiteness is actively working for you and against people of color in neighborhoods such as Logan Square and Pilsen. These historically Latino communities have been gentrified, meaning white people moved in and took advantage of the low-rent costs, but as our presence increased, rent skyrocketed, which pushed Latinos out and effectively erased their ties to these areas. Just thought I’d throw that one tiny example in for anyone building a “Whiteness is a Plague to the Earth” evidence portfolio.

4. Straight, white, male readers, this may be a difficult pill for you to swallow, but you are not the arbitrator of what is and is not oppressive towards minority communities. The designated oppressor does not define the realities of the oppressed. So, if your female coworker tells you that your “harmless” joke was sexist, believe her. If your gay cousin informs you that your usage of the word “gay” is offensive, believe him. If #BlackLivesMatter tells you that our society is so structured in a way that relies upon the oppression, incarceration and extermination of black and brown men, women and children, believe them.

5. If you’re over the age of fifty, or you’ve only ever read history books written by white dudes, you may find yourself puzzled by the movement. #BlackLivesMatter seems superfluous, you may be thinking; after all, black people have “come so far.” To be sure, nixing water fountains and lunch counters “for coloreds” was an important milestone, but white supremacy was not dismantled the moment John F. Kennedy shook Martin Luther King, Jr.’s hand after his “I Have A Dream” speech. I, too, was shocked when I heard the news that the Civil Rights decade didn’t totally undo centuries of oppression. Alas, the struggle lives on, mostly because white people aren’t ready to say that it does.

6. The predecessors and contemporaries of #BlackLivesMatter, such as the Black Panthers, the NAACP and #BlackGirlMagic do not seek to erase the contribution of other cultures to the fabric of American life. Rather, they are asserting their creativity, intelligence, beauty, worth and humanity into the spaces (music, television, film, art, broadcast news, etc.) that have rejected them for centuries. Our cute, “Kim K-Inspired” cornrows appropriate the black culture that we ridiculed until we ripped it off of a black girl’s head and crowned ourselves with it. As Jesse Williams explained, the black experience is not one that we are allowed to try when it suits us and take off when it doesn’t. And just while we’re dancing around this subject — being Biggie’s biggest fan doesn’t give you a pass to rap along to, “If you don’t know, now you know, n****.” Just permanently cut that word out of your vocabulary.

7. Finally, white readers, please don’t ignore #BlackLivesMatter just because you can. The post-racial, land of the free American dreamland that we all lie about has no chance of becoming a reality if we can’t even acknowledge the ways in which we’ve thwarted the efforts of anti-white supremacy movements. If you’re unsettled by the loss of any human life, please write your legislators and implore them to restructure our militarized, quasi-genocidal police departments. Talk to your black and brown friends and peers to understand the ways in which racism still hurts them today, right now, this moment. A thorough understanding of the problem will lead to a proper diagnosis and, fingers crossed, an eventual cure to the racism and xenophobia that has plagued our country since its conception.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another—not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that. Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Never Ask Your 'Black' Friend These 8 Questions

Don't do it, Karen, just don't. I know you weren't raised to be culturally sensitive but please just don't.

msmry
msmry
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Going to a PWI and finding yourself as the only black person in your friend group sometimes can offer you the title of "Honorary Know-It-All" regarding your race and culture. Now before you start yelling at your technological device, don't.

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I am not saying it is not OK to ask questions especially if you want to be more informed about who to interact with those of minority races. It is good to try and be more informed about a different culture but sometimes the way people try to achieve this can be insensitive.

"OMG Your hair looks so soft! May I touch it?"

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No! Just No! I don't care if it would make your year you can not touch my hair. And for Pete's sake do not do that thing were you ask but YOU ARE ALREADY TOUCHING MY HAIR. Seriously, what was the point of asking? Foreal those don't ask and don't touch unless maybe it's like your best friend. Most people of color work very hard to get there hair perfect and also we don't know where your hands have been. No touchy!

"Is that all your hair?"

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Just don't. Like, seriously just don't. And also don't assume you know the answer because there are a lot of black women now that have a lot of hair. Not to mention because our society pressures us to fit this ideal image that usually results in the damaging of our hair we often use fake hair to protect our own from the everlasting effects of colonization — sorry, I meant "relaxers." (Not really.)

"Where are you 'really' from?"

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OK, this goes for all minorities. Do not do the whole "well where are you "really" from?" because you not "really" from here either Karen. Especially for black people this is a question that is directly related back to colonization because half of us have no clue were our ancestors came from and the chances of us ever knowing is basically none because of the everlasting effect of you know whipping out an entire civilization for reasons I still say is bullshit.

Why is it OK for black people to say the "N" word?

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OK, let's get one thing straight even we can not come to condenses on this topic. However, it is NOT OK for anyone who is not black to say the "n" word. Why is this you ask? Let me give you a history lesson.

The "N" word is a racial slur often directed towards those of African descent. This term is deeply rooted in a very racially charged era of American history and sadly is still used today to have the same offensive derogatory effects typically when coming from those, not of African descent. Now there have been some efforts to rebrand and claim words that were used to degrade areas in society and the word "nigga" is one of those. Again, even we can't get on the same page with this but I would say us using the term is a way of reclaiming the past that was intended to break us down.

"Do you have a mom AND a dad?"

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"You sure that's your name?"

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Yes, I am sure! This is the bane of my existence. My name is MARY ELIZABETH MINNS. And yes, it is spelled just like the queen of England. No, it is not Marri, not Marre, not Merri, not Merre or any other convoluted way you can find to spell my name. No, not all black people have some unique name with some unique spelling.

"You DON'T like chicken and watermelon?"

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Yes, I am black and I am proud. But no I do not necessarily live on fried chicken and watermelon so if you invite me over don't ask if that's what I want. I would rather have pasta. Do not make assumptions off of any type of stereotype but especially this one.

"Can you swim?"/ "Really, you can swim?"

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Yes, I can swim and so can other black people. No, not all of us are good at track and basketball and yes, some of us can swim and enjoy it too. I mean for Pete's sake, our ancestors were brought over in boats and there is still a bunch of us in the Bahamas.

This is, of course, supposed to be a light-hearted way of addressing a serious issue. But, next time you are talking to your minority friends, just be aware and culturally sensitive. Think before you speak. I mean really think before you speak.

msmry
msmry

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